Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

Media: Book Reviews Jazz-Rock Fusion & My Father’s House |1978-11-9

In the beginning rock borrowed liberally from jazz, but as we entered the 1970s the flow was reversed, and jazz began to borrow back from rock. It’s not quite that simple, but there has been a two-way flow of inspiration and it has resulted in a highly — charged amalgam that — for want of a better term — is called fusion music. Jazz critics see this music as a threat to the very life of jazz, rock critics tend to see it as jazz, and a large segment of the public just laps it up not caring what it is.

—With more and more musicians — both young and old — plugging in and becoming fusicians, it was inevitable that someone would devote a book to the subject. Jazz-Rock Fusion, with text by Julie Coryell [wife of fusion guitarist Larry Coryell] and photographs by Laura Friedman, features capsule biographies of 58 musicians and singers, followed by a brief interview with each. As such it is a valuable tool for music critics and an interesting handbook for the serious fan, especially in an era when most record companies have seen fit to do away with album notes.

The photographs — many of which are in color, but poorly reproduced — prove Ms. Friedman’s ability to focus, but little else. The biographies and interviews are, on the other hand, concise and informative though one has to question Ms. Coryell’s choice of subjects. To take a few examples, the inclusion of Gary Burton, Ron Carter, Al Jarreau and Keith Jarrett is quite inappropriate, not to say ludicrous, and the exclusion of such staunch fusicians as Lonnie Liston Smith, Michael Urbaniak, Urzula Dudziak, and Norman Connors is puzzling.

Equally puzzling is the bibliography in the rear of the book; it lists only ten books, four of which are certifiably the worst ever written on the subject of jazz. The selected discographies that follow are considerably more comprehensive and useful, they list various albums made by some of the book’s subjects as leaders and as sidemen, but skip important data by omitting the year of recording. The preface, by pianist Ramsey Lewis, is self-serving and ill-written, but there is enough useful material in Jazz-Rock Fusion to make it worth the fusion lover’s while. Jazz-Rock Fusion by Julie Coryell and Friedman. Delta Special Dell, 297 pp., $9.95 (soft cover)

— A suspenseful novel about a rogue- turned-Reverend. The setting is the South, the plot borders on soap opera, but the conclusion comes as a surprise. In My Father’s House by Ernest J. Gaines. Knopf, 214 pp., $8.95

— A book for ages 12 and up with advice on such subjects as family, dating, sex, love, drugs and alcohol. Includes interesting quotes from young people and recommends other books on the subjects covered. You and Your Feelings by Eda LeShan. Macmillan, 117 pp., $5.95.

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